Serj Tankian and the APO
There were nothing but highlights as Serj Tankian teamed up with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Serj Tankian and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Author: By CHRIS SCHULZ — Fairfax Media
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Monday, March 16
It wouldn’t be often that a tuxedo-clad member of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra gets the opportunity to «throw up the goat» — the international hand gesture for metal fans — to a crowd.
But when the APO teamed up with Serj Tankian — the big-voiced System of a Down singer who is now performing solo — it wasn’t just appropriate, it was almost compulsory.
That’s how the night began as the APO took to the stage at Auckland’s majestic Town Hall, and the grinning member of the APO’s horn section received plenty of cheers — and returned «goats» — from the surprisingly large, and varied, crowd.
It was an odd beginning for a wonderfully odd performance.
It might seem a strange mix on paper, but — over five System of a Down albums and one of his own, 2007’s Elect the Dead — Tankian’s booming voice has become an instrument of its own.
His operative howls give focus to the frenetic metal riffs that usually accompany his voice.
But, when paired with the intricate melodies and stunning musicianship of the APO, Tankian’s vocal range stood out even more.
That was evident from the opening track, his first solo single Empty Walls, as Tankian’s recognisable Armenian-tinged hollering was given extra melodrama and poignancy from the soaring strings.
If you were getting chills from the orchestra and their perfectly executed, and frequent, instrumentals, that’s because they know exactly what they’re doing.
As a result, there were plenty of highlights, like the thrilling cresendo at the end of Feed Us, and the dramatic elements that punctuated Sky Is Over.
Then there was Blue, a non-album track that saw Tankian impressively matching the APO’s sonic delivery with a pinpoint falsetto.
The combo didn’t mesh quite as well when the rave lights were brought out for the overly frenetic Money, as the intricate flourishes of the orchestra got lost in a sea of noise.
And Baby was a little too wacky, but it was a good opportunity for Tankian to unveil some comical facial expressions and a piercing metal scream like the days of old.
It was a nod to Tankian’s rock fans in attendance, but if they wanted a Monday night moshpit fix they would have left disappointed.
For those wanting to be pushed out of their comfort zone, by a performer willing to do just that to himself, there were nothing but highlights.
When Tankian and the APO received a standing ovation, they deserved every second of it.